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Vital Interests vs. Democratic Ideals


Understandably, the Muslim Brotherhood is enraged.

Having won the presidency of Egypt in free and fair elections after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, President Mohammed Morsi has been ousted in a military coup and placed under house arrest. Brotherhood leaders, convicted of no crimes, are being rounded up.

They played by America's rules. Now, with America's blessing, they are being locked up by America's friends in Egypt's armed forces.

Nor is this the first perceived betrayal. When Hamas won the free elections demanded by George W. Bush, America refused to recognize their legitimacy and plotted the violent overthrow of Hamas in Gaza.

When Islamists swept the first round of Algerian elections in 1991, the regime, with the blessing of Bush 1, canceled the second round, leading to a guerrilla war that cost 100,000 to 200,000 dead.

If Muslims have come to believe that Americans preaching democracy are charlatans and hypocrites, do they not have a point?

U.S. foreign policy once seemed to make sense. We put vital interests ahead of democratist ideology. We stood by those who stood by us. We did not spend time inspecting the moral credentials of those who took America's side. We played the cards we were dealt in this world.

Gen. Washington danced a jig when he heard Louis XVI, a descendant of the Sun King, would support America's cause against our mother country.

In 1917, Woodrow Wilson took us to war "to make the world safe for democracy" as an associate power of five empires — the British, French, Italian, Russian and Japanese. At war's end, Wilson signed treaties that plundered the lands and colonies of the three defeated empires, for the benefit of the victorious empires.

In the Good War from 1941 to 1945 against the Nazis, our greatest ally was the mass murderer of Christians and democrats Josef Stalin.

In the Cold War, Dwight Eisenhower sanctioned the overthrow of democratic governments in Guatemala and Iran and their replacement by autocrats who would take our side in the struggle for the world.

We welcomed the Shah, Saudi kings and Gulf emirs. JFK welcomed the "Butcher of the Balkans," Marshal Tito, to the White House. President Nixon sided with autocratic Pakistan over democratic India — for Pakistan had sided with us.

Nixon went to Beijing to toast Chairman Mao, a monster as great as Stalin. Liberals sickened by our alliance with the "corrupt and dictatorial regime" of President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon were ecstatic.

The Nixon White House celebrated the overthrow of elected president Salvador Allende of Chile by Gen. Augusto Pincohet.

Among other U.S. allies in the Cold War were Asian dictators and generals Chiang Kai-shek of China, Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee of South Korea, and Suharto of Indonesia.

Portugal's dictator Antonio Salazar and Spain's Gen. Francisco Franco were loyal allies against Bolshevism. Mobutu Sese Seko was for 32 years our man in the Congo, as Emperor Haile Selassie was in Ethiopia.

Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak were American allies and dictators of Egypt from 1970 to 2011, until, in the name of our democratic ideals, we threw our flawed friend Mubarak to the wolves.

What is the cause of our present angst over what is happening in Cairo? Our democratist ideals appear to have been run over by U.S. armored personnel carriers driven by Egyptian soldiers trained by the U.S. Army. Whether or not our interests have been advanced, our ideals seem to have been wounded.

Behind our ambivalence and paralysis may be found several truths. First, the Cold War, the life-or-death civilizational struggle that defined our times, is over. No vital U.S. interest is at risk in Egypt to justify military intervention or the shedding of American blood.

This is thus their problem, not ours, most Americans believe, and our influence is receding there, even as that of the British, French and Russians did before us. Let them work it out.

Testifying to this truth is the tape of Secretary of State John Kerry inspecting his yacht off Nantucket as the Egyptian regime fell, and Obama, after a brief National Security Council conclave, heading off for the golf course on the July 4 weekend, then on to Camp David.

Today, from Egypt to Lebanon to Syria and Iraq, it is Islamist against secularist, Sunni vs. Shia, tribe against tribe, those in power against those who want power. The Arab Spring has ushered in the Arab war of all against all.

That year 1848, when all the thrones of Europe were shaken by revolution, was a similar time. And those wise old war hawks of 1812, Henry Clay and John Calhoun, found themselves again on the same side.

America, they said, should stay out.

"Masterly inactivity" is our role, said Calhoun. Added Clay, "Avoiding the distant wars of Europe, we should keep our lamp burning brightly on this Western shore as a light to all the nations than to hazard its utter extinction amid the ruins of fallen or falling republics."

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at



6 Comments | Post Comment
US foreign policy is such a huge disaster that its hard to keep up with all its messes. Its funny, yet sad that W Bush can't leave the country because he is considered a war criminal in many other countries. I just found this out last week. Its funny because he deserves it, but sad that a US president could have acted so irresponsibly. I'm sure Obama will enjoy the same war criminal status when his reign of terror is over.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Jul 9, 2013 9:32 AM
US foreign policy is such a huge disaster that its hard to keep up with all its messes. Its funny, yet sad that W Bush can't leave the country because he is considered a war criminal in many other countries. I just found this out last week. Its funny because he deserves it, but sad that a US president could have acted so irresponsibly. I'm sure Obama will enjoy the same war criminal status when his reign of terror is over.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Jul 9, 2013 9:35 AM
Spain, the dominant world power in the 1600's to 1800's bankrupted itself trying to Chritianize the New World. The only thing it got back was a bunch of gold, which helped it to pretty much forget about industrialization. It was kind of like what oil has done to the Muslim Middle East and to Russia. Maybe we should take a lesson from that.

That said, I still will always advocate defending Israel, the only truly civilized nation in that entire quagmire which, with the exception of them, is a dessert of barbarity.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Masako
Tue Jul 9, 2013 9:47 PM
Mr. Buchanan sees a great difference between our present efforts to prop up governments against Islamists in remote parts of the world and the "life and death struggle" of the Cold War, when we had to prevent leftist governments taking over Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Cuba and South Vietnam. In fact, not doing anything in those conflicts would not have had much effect. We know that, because in Cuba and Vietnam our interventions failed, with no great harm to us. What did cause great harm to us, and even greater harm to the Vietnamese, was the war we fought there, not its failure.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Peter Ungar
Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:55 AM
Buchanan doesn't give a flying you-know-what about what Egypt is going through now. The Islamist terrorists tried to subvert their fetal democratic process, the military, of all institutions, stepped in to try to stop that perversion of democracy, and Buchanan couldn't care less.

He is just a comfy puke, a well-studied historian at one time, a failed presidential wannabe, who now makes money writing provocative and irresponsible stuff.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Masako
Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:00 PM
Re: Chris McCoy

This may be one of the most dangerous leaders we have ever had. He is an impostor on just about every level. Blacks think of him as one of them. What a hoot.

I am an Irish American, at least three generations back and polluted with tons of other racial genes, and I am no more Irish than a plate of spaghetti. I am just an American white. But I look Irish, and if I could fake an Irish brogue, I could easily sell myself as one of them.

Obama is doing that in reverse. He is a true African American, and the fact that he actually happens to be one of those rare creatures is why I hate that stupid, misleading, politically correct phrase. American blacks are not African Americans.

They are no more African than I am Irish. Obama is half true African and half white American, and despite what he looks and sounds like after much practice, he has nothing to do with American blacks.

But he fakes being an American black, imitating the tones of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, depending on how the political moment will best serve him, and then he can switch to sounding just like an American white, which is half of him, and plays so well with the liberal, bridge buying community. The problem is, we don't know who or what he really is, and maybe he himself doesn't know the answer to that question either.

For me he is a pod-person, overtaken by the political inertia of a military industrial complex he had not a clue about as a sheltered law school professor who thought he knew everything, while actually knowing just north of zero about anything real. He has been overrun, overtaken, commandeered, and captured, as much by his own sheltered ignorance as by the institutional inertia of forces he has no understanding of, and he is a dangerous shill.

Much more so than the obviously stupid GW Bush, even though both are about equal in the war criminal department.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Masako
Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:27 PM
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